Johnny On The Spot - November Review
#MIND THE GAP. Despite increasingly desperate efforts by the game`s media paymasters in England to strive to talk up a Premier League title race or the leader`s implosion, Pep Guardiola`s Manchester City have powered on and at the time of this review ahead of the Moyesiah bringing his beleaguered West Ham United to town, the Blues remain unbeaten this season ahead of a challenging run of December fixtures. In Europe, we`ve been imperious. Domestically, but for some by now habitual get out of jail Stretford wins, City`s record breaking efforts would see the side clear at the top of the league in double figures.
At the outset of the campaign, boy would we have taken such a breathtaking sequence of results, but it is the manner of them that has been so extraordinary you have to pinch yourself as a battle hardened Blue! Of the 6 wins that spanned November, the one that exemplified City`s swashbuckling style, "The City Way," was the opening fixture, the tuning of a terrific Napoli side in their own back yard. Almost universal praise has matched City`s momentum, but there remain some learned cynics out there who dismiss the squad`s achievements today as being made purely out of the financial might that the self-sustaining Manchester club now boasts. I counter-dismiss that as lazy journalism. City are a well drilled and noticeably fitter side than many of the teams we have beaten thus far and their togetherness bursts out of every goal celebration. You can`t buy this, nor the winning mentality that ground out wins through the Huddersfield and Southampton walls, it is coached. David Moyes is of course right in stating the obvious "City have won nothing yet" but he also states that neither can City be called a great side at this point. A pep talk on top of a Pep talk if ever there was one!
As the month wore on, the contests became more attritional. We passed through West Brom, Arsenal and Leicester with flair and daring do. There was a degree of devil may care pitched in at the back for the West Brom game, but this tightened up again, only for the loss of John Stones at Leicester to generate uncertainty at set-pieces, particularly corners in subsequent games. Allied to a return to more profligate times up front, I reckon the repeat free headers Southampton were afforded in particular would have seen us punished by a more clinical side. These gripes aside, the football we have been playing has been otherworldly and I still perceive no clear and present challengers outside of a stealthily resurgent Chelsea and officialdom backed Stretford Galacticos.
Barring more injuries to important City players like Bernard Mendy that Carlton Pogba called for on BBC`s bandwaggoning Football Focus or any suspensions, Pep could yet carefully rotate his men through to Christmas without defeat. Should Stonesy come back quickly, all the better but there will be no harm whatsoever in strengthening the squad further next month for a big push across all fronts.
Ok, we must not get ahead of ourselves and the mindset of the players is essential within that context. That again cannot be bought, but coached.
The City Speedometer @ 30th November...Unbeaten run since 23rd April…
Played 27, Won 24, Drawn 3, Goals for 76, Against 17.
How Did Johnny Do?
Napoli 2 City 2 D
City 3 Arsenal 0 W
Leicester 1 City 1 D
City 4 Feyenoord 0 W
Huddersfield 0 City 2 W
City 4 Southampton 0 W
And Lo It Came To Pass…
Napoli 2 City 4 W
City 3 Arsenal 1 W
Leicester 0 City 2 W
City 1 Feyenoord 0 W
Huddersfield 1 City 2 W
City 2 Southampton 1 W